Posted by Kyle Brookings on Sunday, August 6, 2017
We interviewed Ryan Crouse, a storm hunter from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada. Visit www.yorktonstormhunter.com for more information.
WX CENTRE: What got you interested in weather?
RC: I have been interested in weather since I was a little kid. While the "normal" kids would be outside playing sports in the summer, I was listening to the local radio station writing down the weather reports haha! Many years ago (something like grade 6-8) we had a really bad storm come though our farm that produced a tornado. My mom and younger brother went into the basement as my dad and I jumped in the truck and followed behind to see if there was damage anywhere. I guess you can blame my dad, lol!
WX CENTRE: How long have you been storm chasing?
RC: For the most part I would say since 2009-2010. From 2009-2011 I would spot around the Yorkton area staying with 30 miles of the city. 2012, I began to actually started researching what storm spotting/chasing actually is other than just being present for a nice photo opportunity and by 2013, I was going anywhere that there was a chance for storms. 2014, was also a special year for me as it was my first trip to Tornado Alley. I went with Weather Mentor and good friend Notanee Bourassa.
WX CENTRE: Are you interested in all weather or just severe weather?
RC: I enjoy all weather events, but severe weather has a special spot in my heart.
WX CENTRE: What kind of planning goes into a storm chase?
RC: I generally start looking at weather models 2-4 days in advance and as I get to the last 24 hours, probably look way more than I should be hahaha! The night before the storm, will finally decide on a target and then when I wake up in the am (that is, if I DO sleep), I generally have to pick a new target as models shifted. From there, I setup my gear/equipment in the Storm-Finder (my storm chase truck.) After that I head out, and once I get to the target ... I wait for the fun to begin!
WX CENTRE: What is your favorite part of storm chasing?
RC: Personally, I absolutely love amazing storm structure! Sure, a tornado can be amazing, but I just love seeing incredible storm structure!
WX CENTRE: What is your least favorite part of storm chasing?
RC: This one is super easy to answer ..... paying the gas bill lol!!!
WX CENTRE: Do you have any kind of meteorology training?
RC: No. I began as a photographer. From there I began to read and researched a variety of books, info from websites, going to CANWARN Storm Spotter training put on by Environment Canada, etc. Tim Vasquez has very well written books, and I suggest them to anyone that asks! From there, chasing with chasers whom have been in the field for some time, was a great learning experience that I greatly appreciated.
WX CENTRE: What would you say is the most memorable storm you chased?
RC: I've got a couple that were special for me!
July 23, 2014 - Consul Saskatchewan
- This was the first time I got to chase from within the Dominator 3 and it was one hell of a storm! Some of the nicest structure i've seen to date!
May 27, 2015 - Canadian Texas
- This was my first large tornado I seen while chasing. Was just a fantastic experience!
July 27, 2015 - Tilston Manitoba Canada
- This was the first dangerous tornado to strike Western Canada in years! It stayed tornado warned for something like 3 hours. Amazingly, there were no deaths, but there was property damage.
July 31, 2016 - Yorkton Saskatchewan
- This ended up being one of my best chases I've ever had and all within 30 miles of my house!
I caught multiple tornadoes (3) and there may of been up to 5-6 but without being able to see past trees blocking the view, of course they can't be confirmed. Everything about the day, I felt like I was chasing in Oklahoma or Texas but sure didn't feel like my backyard!
WX CENTRE: Does it seem that the force of storms are changing?
RC: I don't think so. I personally think, there are more storm reports and tornadoes being seen now than even a few years ago because everyone now has a cell phone or mobile device that has a camera. With that, social media also plays a very big part as it's so easy for everyone to see a posted photo now.
WX CENTRE: When you're chasing storms do you have a good idea of how they're going to go?
RC: When I am making the forecast for the day I have a pretty good guess. Sometimes, things don't go exactly as planned but generally have a good clue.
WX CENTRE: What would you say is one of the biggest challenges you face?
RC: ...... paying for gas lol.
Model inconsistencies are always fun! Last year, everything just lined up great on every storm I was on. This year.... it's been the complete opposite.
Distance can be on this list too as on average, I think a single chase in Saskatchewan, I put on 1000 km or more.
WX CENTRE: Are there any misconceptions about storm chasing you'd like to address?
RC: Hmmm .... well, for the "most part" it is not like the movie Twister lol. For the most part when chasing, we are sitting at a gas station waiting .... and waiting. When the storm blows up, if forming, we can be sitting and sitting.
That and the government doesn't pay for my gas lol. I am not sure why, but that is one of my most common questions I get asked.
WX CENTRE: What advice would you give to others considering entering the storm chasing field?
RC: Research, research and research! If you find an experienced chaser willing to help you out, answer questions, and take you chasing , take advance of that great opportunity! Some of the best knowledge I have received was while chasing with someone with more knowledge. I also try to learn something new every chase (why what did what, kind of thing).
WX CENTRE: Why do you chase?
RC: I chase because it is my passion. The emotion and thrill while on a crazy storm is like nothing i've experienced while doing anything else! Next to that, I also chase to be "On The ground Truth" for Environment Canada (or the NWS in the states) I also live stream when I am chasing so everyone can see exactly what is happening as it is happening. If there are weather events such as strong winds, hail, funnel cloud, tornadoes, etc I also phone them in to aid the Meteorologists at Environment Canada so the correct watches, warnings can be issued.